If you’re planning a trip to Guayaquil Ecuador, here’s a handy guide for hotels, malls and restaurants near the Guayaquil International Airport.
In case you missed it, we shared a video on our YouTube channel about our long weekend in Guayaquil. We showed the Sheraton Hotel where we stayed, Mall del Sol where we shopped and ate, and we visited the Guayaquil airport to say goodbye to an old friend.
Several of our viewers asked for more details about our experience in Guayaquil, and especially about the price of Apple products in Think, the Apple Authorized Retailer, so that’s the focus of this article.
Guayaquil Ecuador: The 40,000 Foot Overview
General Information About Guayaquil Ecuador
We had several comments on our video about how developed Guayaquil looked. The part of town where we stayed near the airport and Mall del Sol is very “first world,” but there are large parts of the city that are still very poor and underdeveloped.
Miles of sprawling barrios with cinder block houses line the highway heading west out of town fulfilling the stereotype that many US Americans have about developing nations. However, some parts of Ecuador’s major cities feel just like any other developed city in the US, Canada or Europe.
Guayaquil and Quito (the capital city) are roughly the same size with about 3 million people. Guayaquil is Ecuador’s major economic driver and is home to Ecuador’s largest port.
Tourist Attractions in Guayaquil Ecuador
Guayaquil also has a number of popular tourist attractions, such as the Malecón 2000, Cerro Santa Ana (Santa Ana Hill), Cerro Blanco and Parque Histórico in Samborondón. These areas are well guarded and very safe during the day.
Safety in Guayaquil Ecuador
Guayaquil is also Ecuador’s most dangerous city with a high crime rate compared to other major cities in Ecuador. However, Guayaquil is still safer then the most dangerous cities in the US, such as Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit and Baltimore.
Most of Guayaquil’s crime occurs in the lower income areas of town, so if you stay in the more developed areas and don’t walk around the city at night, you’ll minimize your risk.
The two main causes for concern as tourists are pickpockets and taxi drivers. Always keep your possessions secure in locked zippers or safety belts. It’s best to leave your valuables in the hotel safe, but you’ll be fine taking pictures with your phone. Just pay attention to your surroundings.
We recommend using the Uber or Cabify apps to request cabs in Guayaquil, or use the hotel drivers/shuttles. These are much safer options than hailing cabs on the street since there will be a record of the fare.
Unfortunately, whether true or not, Guayaquil taxi drivers have a reputation of driving unsuspecting tourists to a bad part of town, taking all of their belongings, and leaving them to fend for themselves. We have never met anyone who has experienced this, but we regularly get comments on our videos about this type of crime from Ecuadorians who live in Guayaquil so it’s something to keep in mind.
Hotels Near the Guayaquil Airport
There are several hotels near the Guayaquil airport that are also conveniently located to malls and restaurants.
Air Suites Hotel Guayaquil Airport (Low Budget)
The Air Suites Hotel in Guayaquil is only a few blocks from the airport, it’s very affordable and they accept pets. We’ve stayed their several times and it typically costs about $35/night.
The rooms are small, but very clean and the location is convenient to the airport, but there aren’t many dining options nearby and no one speaks English who works there. They do offer a limited breakfast.
We walked about 8 blocks to Mall del Sol for dinner one evening while it was still light, but we wouldn’t recommend walking there or back after dark. You can take a cab for about $2.
Holiday Inn Hotel Guayaquil Airport
We’ve never stayed at the Holiday Inn Guayaquil Airport, but it has been recommended to us by friends and viewers. It’s walking distance from the airport, making it the most convenient. Rooms run $80 to $100/night.
The Sheraton Hotel
We often stay at the Sheraton Hotel across the street from Mall del Sol when we visit Guayaquil. It’s close to the airport, it has a walking bridge to the mall, and it’s now part of Marriott so we get points that we can use on future trips.
The hotel rooms are extremely luxurious and the hotel itself is very high end. We usually pay $70 to $100/night to sleep in arguably the most comfortable bed we’ve ever had. In Denver, rooms in a comparable hotel would easily be more than $300/night!
The people who work the front desk/check-in counter speak English, but most of the other staff does not. English is spoken by a lot of people in Cuenca, but not in other parts of Ecuador, so it’s a good idea to study your Spanish and bring a translator app with you when you travel throughout Ecuador.
Courtyard by Marriott Guayaquil
UPDATE: The Courtyard by Marriott Guayaquil by San Marino Mall is no longer in operation, an apparent casualty of the pandemic and quarantine. We’re disappointed to learn that it has closed because it was a really nice hotel in a great location.
None of these hotels offer many food items for speciality diets so you won’t find a lot of vegan or gluten-free options on the menu. They cater to a largely international and wealthy Ecuadorian audience who tends to eat traditional fare.
Malls Near the Guayaquil Ecuador Airport
There are several high-end malls and shopping areas near the Guayaquil Ecuador international airport.
Mall del Sol
Our viewers were especially surprised by Mall del Sol. You could drop this mall anywhere in the United States and people wouldn’t know it was from Ecuador. It even has a lot of the same stores and fast food dining options as any mall in the US, including Fossil, Clarks, Forever 21, McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, etc. This mall also has a Sukasa, which is a home store similar to a Crate & Barrel.
Think Authorized Premium Apple Reseller
We were really impressed with the customer service at Think, an Apple Authorized Premium Reseller and Repair Center. They were very knowledgeable about the products and very eager to help us with my laptop, which had a battery recall.
Below, I’ve included a few photos of the price and specs labels for the iMac and MacBook Pro (as of August 2020). Unlike a true Apple Store back in the US, Think only has a couple of options available in the store with a VERY limited color selection for each type of device.
The prices are also a lot higher. For example, the 21.5 inch 3.0 GHz iMac at Think costs $2,005 while it’s listed for $1,499 on the Apple website. That’s about 50% more. The base 13 inch MacBook Pro model costs $2,364 at Think while it’s listed for $1,299 on the Apple website. That’s almost double the price!
You’ll also notice that the prices are prominently shown with financing, which is extremely common in Ecuador. You can finance EVERYTHING. Even $20 toasters! However, you get a steep discount for paying in cash or charging it to your credit card.
San Marino Mall Guayaquil
San Marino Mall is very similar to Mall del Sol, although it feels a bit more compact and crowded. It has many of the same international chain stores that you’ll find in malls throughout Ecuador’s major cities. It also has a nice food court with a Noe Sushi.
Plaza Lagos Town Center in Samborondón
Plaza Lagos Town Center is a high-end outdoor mall in the upscale Samborodón township located about 10 minutes by cab north of the Guayaquil Airport. We’re constantly amazed by how developed parts of Ecuador are and we like to bust the “3rd world” myth whenever we have the chance.
This outdoor mall is one of the nicest we’ve seen, ANYWHERE! The stores and restaurants are VERY fancy! And expensive! You can expect to pay United States/European prices at this mall, which is a popular place for wealthy Ecuadorians to see and be seen.
Restaurants Near the Guayaquil Ecuador Airport
There are lots of restaurants to choose from near the Guayaquil Ecuador airport, mostly located in or around the three nearby malls.
Restaurants in Mall del Sol Guayaquil Ecuador
Mall del Sol has a big food court with a bunch of typical unhealthy American fast food chains, but we were really surprised at the healthy food options in the mall. The Freshii where we ate for lunch was delicious, and a place called Biscuits by Nané in the same area was equally good.
Both had loads of vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and traditional fare that would be considered fast casual like a Chipotle or Tokyo Joe’s in the US. Our lunch at Freshii cost $19.94, which included two entrees and two bottles of water.
Our favorite “treat” place to eat in Ecuador is Noe Sushi. We typically pay $60 to $80 to eat dinner there, depending on how hungry and “thirsty” we are. We often enjoy a carafe of saki, which is $15 for a large. Saki is quite a bit more expensive in Ecuador because it’s imported. A glass of wine costs about $6.
A typical meal like this back in Denver would easily cost over $120.
There are also several restaurants located next to the Sheraton hotel, including a Red Lion.
Restaurants in San Marino Mall Guayaquil Ecuador
San Marino Mall has a large food court with a variety of Ecuadorian and traditional fare restaurants. They also have a restaurant called Go Green (there’s also one in the Mall del Sol food court) that is similar to a Chipotle with bowls, burritos and salads.
The San Marino Mall also has a Noe Sushi and several other restaurants located in the area near the mall.
Restaurants in Plaza Lagos Town Center Mall
We had a delicious lunch with some Aperol Spritzers at Tinta Café in our Samborondón video. The mall has several high-end restaurants that serve mostly traditional fare: American, Italian, Mexican, etc. They even have a Sweet & Coffee and a wine bar, but they have very few options for special diets. You can expect to pay similar prices as the United States at these stores and restaurants.
If you’re flying into Guayaquil Ecuador and plan to stay overnight or for several days to enjoy the tourist attractions, you’ll find lots of options for nice hotels, malls and restaurants near the Guayaquil airport.
That part of the city is very well developed and mostly safe during the day, but you’ll want to take common sense precautions just like you would in any major city to avoid being the victim of a crime, especially pickpocketing.
The cost of living in Ecuador is low, but the cost of things are high. Restaurants, hotels and public transportation (including taxis) are much more affordable, although there are a few exceptions like Plaza Lagos. However, anything with a plug, especially electronics, are 30-100% more expensive in Ecuador than the United States, and you’ll find a smaller selection with fewer options.
However, if you plan to stay in Ecuador, it’s easier to get things repaired if you buy them here, so you have to weigh the hassle of servicing things against the higher cost of buying them.
Most people don’t realize that Ecuador has a lot of wealthy people and a growing middle class (at least before the pandemic). While a large percentage of the population lives in poverty, it’s not a nation of poor people as the news media portrays it. We really enjoy showing the higher end areas as a contrast to our rural beach town and they also help bust the “3rd world” myth.
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